Everything I knew before was a LIE: a story about basic capitalism


Something that’s got me really heated this week is this thing I’m calling the consumer conspiracy — because it’s an idea so convoluted that it sounds like a conspiracy and people think I’m a little bit crazy when I describe it to them.

A few months ago I was working in the mall near my house, and a woman that works at one of the jewelry shops told me that she had to work at a different shop this week — and I said,

“You can work at a different store?! How?”

And she told me a secret: they’re all the same store. Zale’s, Kay, Jared’s, Belden, Hannoush. There are probably some more that I’m missing, but you get the idea. Even Piercing Pagoda is also a part of the conglomerate of jewelry stores.

And when she saw I was horrified by this revelation, she also told me that Walmart and Modcloth are also owned by the same company!

A few days ago I found out that Disney had bought rights to The Simpson’s. Which just seems wrong, in my humble opinion, but okay.

And just this morning I found out that one single company owns Vogue, GQ, New Yorker, and one other well-known magazine. Which honestly didn’t faze me, since I learned a few years ago Rupert Murdoch had acquired National Geographic.

Maybe I’m making this into a big deal, but I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that all of these unrelated companies are, in fact, connected; I think this is what the economists would call a monopoly. As a consumer, I like to feel like I’m making very conscious choices when I buy products (she says after impulse-buying a bunch of cheap clothes at the mall two days ago) so I’m just trying to make sense of everything.

I like capitalism just as much as the next person (read: when it suits my own needs) but something about one company owning every jewelry store in any given mall seems wrong somehow, and I don’t know how I feel about paying Modcloth’s prices when I know that Walmart sells shorts for a dollar. I just wish there was more transparency in consumerism.

The crazy thing is that I go to school, I read books, I listen to podcasts. I research topics from ancient civilizations to Revelations to the policymaking process. And there’s so much I don’t know, tons of things I haven’t taken into consideration. I want to be able to talk about this conspiratorial topic intelligently rather than confusedly.

tl;dr: I need to take an econ class.

1 thought on “Everything I knew before was a LIE: a story about basic capitalism”

  1. Yeah there are these parent companies that many are not aware of. The competition can be good for sales, or if one company folds, they know not to replicate that business model. But more important, yes, they are holding more of the market share and consolidating the wealth.


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